True story. One Saturday morning I found myself sinking in the quick sand that is envy as I cleaned my too-small kitchen. In a home that’s just over 1,800 square feet, the kitchen might well be the smallest room in our house, save the guest bath. It’s so tight that you can’t open the refrigerator door and the dishwasher at the same time. And opening the oven creates a high-temp, treacherous obstacle course for anyone daring to pass through. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then we’ve got real circulation problems. The room was barely big enough to host the pity-party I was indulging myself in when my then-15-year-old son phoned to ask me to pick up he and his friend from the mall.
Pulling out of the busy mall parking lot, wedged between two cars at a long red light and baking in the summer sun, my son noticed a man on the sidewalk holding a “homeless” sign.
“He looks hot and tired,” my son said sympathetically from our air-conditioned car. The temperature was approaching 95 outside. “We should give him some money.”
“Here, give him the classified ads,” I said callously, handing over a section of the newspaper. “There are lots of jobs out there.”
I was hot, too.
“Where will he sleep tonight?” my son asked slowly as though counting the beads of perspiration on the man’s forehead. “What will he eat? We should give him some money.” All of a sudden he moved from impulse to action and began digging for cash. He pulled out a $5 bill and opened the car door.
“No!” I stopped him. “Here. Give him this dollar bill and save your money.” I hated to see my son being taken advantage of by this man who could clearly find work if he tried harder.
He jumped out of the car to personally hand over a tiny bit of aid to the homeless man, much to the dismay of the cars behind us who missed the green light.
My son was quiet as we drove to his friend’s house, deep in thought. As his friend bounded out of the back seat, my son paused. Leaning on the door, his head still halfway in the car, I noticed the pained look on his face. “I feel so sorry for that man,” he said with genuine concern. “Can you imagine not having anywhere to go tonight?” His question lingered. “We are so lucky, Mom, to have what we have.”
“You’re right,” I said humbly, thinking about my tiny kitchen.
We try so hard to raise decent human beings. Sometimes we succeed, in spite of ourselves.
Note: That was 12 years ago. Since then, I’ve discovered Mercy House, Isaiah House, and Casa Teresa – ministries that don’t judge, but rather serve those who are most in need; those, who even though able bodied, have fallen into circumstances where they simply aren’t capable of working. Those organizations need your support. Give generously.